Monday, October 31, 2011

A Smashed Pumpkin Makes Good Compost

Project Feed the Hood with the South West Organizing Project is hosting a Pumpkin Smashing Festival on Saturday, November 5 · 1:00 - 4:00pm 
at Project Feed the Hood International District Garden (Corner of Ross and Wellesley)

The smashed pumpkins will be mixed with leaves and other organic matter to create compost for community gardens in Albuquerque.  So please bring pumpkins to smash and also bags of leaves if you can. There will be food, music, and also fun smash competitions, so bring your pumpkin to compete!!! 

Please spread the word the more pumpkins the more smashing so please come and GET YOUR SMASH ON!!!!

Somewhere on Capitol Hill...

Specifically in Hart Senate Building, an aide to Sen. Tom Udall or Sen. Jeff Bingaman is picking up the telephone and hearing your message:

"Please ask Sen. Udall (or Sen. Bingaman) to protect lifesaving poverty-focused foreign assistance by voting NO on any amendments that cut the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill.

If that wasn't you on this end of the line, then it can be.

Make this call using Bread for the World's toll-free number—1-800-826-3688.  Important. Please make your call by 5 p.m. EST Tuesday, Nov. 1.

And in case you need further encouragement, here is a message from Bread President David Beckmann:
The Senate is making budget decisions right now that will impact millions of lives around the world. One of those decisions has to do with the amount of funding our government devotes to programs that alleviate hunger and poverty in developing countries.

This funding is in extreme danger—even though it accounts for less than 1 percent of the federal budget. The budget deal members of Congress approved in August requires limits to the overall amount Congress can spend. For the first time, aid to small farmers or nutrition programs for mothers and children are competing with military spending for federal dollars in the fiscal year 2012 budget.

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted recently on this funding and supported much higher levels than the House of Representatives.
As the appropriations bills go to the Senate floor this week, dangerous amendments to the Senate Appropriations Committee’s funding levels will likely be offered. We need you to defend the higher Senate numbers and oppose any further cuts to this lifesaving funding.

It is critical that your senator hears from you now. Tell him or her to protect lifesaving poverty-focused foreign assistance by opposing amendments that further cut this vital funding.

P.S.  Bread members in other states are doing this too, including Elaine VanCleave in Nashville, Tenn.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Blogging About The Circle of Protection

Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World
Molly Marsh and Laura Pohl, members of the Bread for the World communications staff, joined us for the Circle of Protection prayer vigil at Immanuel Presbyterian Church about a week ago.  Molly, who is Bread's managing editor, wrote a very nice piece for the national Bread blog. 

This is how the post starts.
About 45 people gathered on the smooth steps of Albuquerque’s Immanuel Presbyterian Church Saturday to offer prayer and advocacy for hungry and poor people—particularly in light of the cuts Congress is considering to programs for vulnerable people in the United States and abroad.
The post captured the essence of the service.
Accompanied by flute and guitar, participants sang, read scripture, and prayed before liturgical dancer Diane Martinez-Hursh led the group into the chapel for the remainder of the service.
Diane indeed was great! And I would add the wonderful songs from the Taize group that sings at the monthly healing service at Hope in the Desert Episcopal Church.

Rebecca Hemphill signs one of the letters
And there was a mention about our advocacy efforts.
After the vigil, participants stayed for a supper of rice, beans, and tortillas—and advocacy. They signed letters Navarro wrote for five candidates who are running for the open seat in the first congressional district. “We ask that if you’re elected to Congress,” the letters read, “you consider joining us in forming a circle of protection around programs that meet the essential needs of hungry people at home and abroad.” 
About 25 people signed each letter by the end of supper. Navarro and others will take the letters to other meetings to get additional signatures. After they get about 100, they’ll visit the candidates personally to deliver the letters.
Joy Carroll was a reader & Rene Ronquillo an usher
We love that we received this recognition.  But of course, it's not really about us, but about the grace of God working through us to protect the most vulnerable.  Still, I am extremely grateful to everyone who played a significant role in this service.

And Thank You Molly for such a wonderful piece.  Click here to read full post.

And here is the script for the full prayer vigil.  Feel free to use it and adapt it for your purposes.  And please share it with others. 

Circle of Protection Prayer Vigil

Photo: Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World
(People are asked to gather in a circle and light their candles)

Kay Huggins
We are gathered in this space as people of faith to contemplate on hunger and poverty and our response as people of faith.

We come into the presence of our Creator with humble hearts, recognizing that we are powerless on our own. We recognize our indebtedness to God.

But we also come together in this circle with the knowledge that as human beings we are all connected to each other. In recognition of our common bonds, please take this opportunity to greet your neighbor to your right and to your left.

Please light your candles and join us in a few moments of silent reflection. The candle represents a light of hope.

Before we begin, I would ask that we first center ourselves in God and consider the following verse from Matthew 22. A version of this account is also found in Mark 12 and Luke 10.

Mike Shawver
“When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”

This is the greatest and first commandment.

And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’

Musical Interlude Come and Fill (Instrumental)

Carlos Navarro
Early this year, Bread for the World helped organize a coalition of Christian denominations and organizations committed to resisting budget cuts that undermine the lives, dignity, and rights of poor and vulnerable people.

As the coalition was forming, Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, Tony Hall, executive director of the Alliance to End Hunger, and Rev. Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, began a fast during Lent to draw attention to FY2011 budget proposals that drastically cut programs for hungry and poor people. Thousands of activists, leaders of nonprofit organizations and corporations, and people of other faiths joined them in urging Congress to protect these programs. When the FY2011 budget was passed, the cuts to these programs were lower than had been originally proposed.

David Beckmann explains the urgency for us to act.
"Everything we have achieved for poor and hungry people in the last 35 years is under severe threat of budget cuts—nutrition programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and SNAP (formerly food stamps), as well as poverty-focused development assistance," he says.

The fast and the Circle of Protection campaign generated extensive print, radio, and television coverage. And thousands of people have raised their voices through letters, phone calls, and personal visits to Congress; through letters to the editor and opinion pieces; through discussions at town hall meetings and call-in shows.

And even though Congress moved to make some reductions in the budget for fiscal year 2011, the cuts to important programs were lower than had been originally proposed.

As the budget discussions for fiscal year 2012 move forward, we will continue to raise our voices. Our faith does not allow us to stand still on this, so we remain steadfast in urging Congress to protect the most vulnerable people in our global society when they make future spending decisions.

Michaela Bruzzeze
Inspired by a common spiritual conviction that God has called on all Americans to protect the vulnerable and promote the dignity of all individuals living in society, we take this opportunity to pray for a just and compassionate federal budget. We appeal to our federal legislators and our president to protect those struggling to overcome poverty in the U.S. and abroad, and to exclude programs that protect people in poverty from the U.S. budget deficit debates.

We believe that the federal budget is a moral document. We affirm government’s role in serving the common good. We have come to Washington to meet with Congressional leaders and to join with you in daily prayer for a global economy and a federal budget that break the yokes of injustice, poverty, hunger and unemployment throughout the world.

Daniel Erdman
Como fieles cristianos, urgimos al Congreso y la administración a otorgar una prioridad moral a los programas que protegen la vida y dignidad de los más pobres y necesitados en estos tiempos difíciles, en nuestra quebrada economía y en nuestro lastimado mundo.

Musical Interlude Come and Fill (sung)

Diane Martinez Hursh. liturgical dancer, leads People into Sanctuary


Debbie Ruiz
Let us begin by pondering a bit about hunger and poverty.

Hunger. Everyone agrees that it should not exist. And yet, the statistics tell us that hunger is prevalent.
More than 1 billion people in the world go hungry.
In the United States, over 49 million people—including 16.7 million children—live in households that struggle to put food on the table. That means one in seven households in the U.S. are living with hunger or are at risk of hunger.

So what is hunger? I can give you a clinical definition.

Hunger pains occur when an individual has not consumed food or drink for an extended period of time. Muscle contractions begin to occur when the stomach has been empty for several hours. As the contractions take place, the sensation may be somewhat unpleasant and interpreted as painful.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hungering for Knowledge in Silver City

The Social Inequality and Sociology of Food Classes at Western New Mexico University in Silver City invite you to the 3rd Annual Hunger for Knowledge Dinner.  This is a fundraiser for the Volunteer Center of Grant County.  Not sure who the keynote speaker is this year, but last year's featured guest, author Sherman Apt Russell, gave a powerful presentation.  So if you know anyone in southwestern New Mexico who would like to attend this worthy dinner, please forward them this invitation:

"Global Poverty is Really Scary!"

Mercedes Pratt, Sam Waggoner, Matt Fleisher
If you happened to be walking through the Student Union Building at the University of New Mexico on this Wednesday, October 26, chances are that you came across Mercedes Pratt, Sam Waggoner and Matt Fleisher.  

And chances are that the sign that Mercedes was holding up grabbed your attention because it said  You Know What's Really Scary? GLOBAL POVERTY.  

The term "scary" has two meanings here.  It truly is scary that 8 million people die each year due to poverty, including 24,000 children each day. 

The little piece of paper that Mercedes, Sam and Matt are giving out has many facts about poverty that should be of great concern to us all.

But "scary" is also part of the Halloween theme of the Pumpkin Bash that the UNM Chapter of Nourish International is promoting.  And that's on the piece of paper too. 

This free event at Student Union Ballroom C, 7-11 p.m. tonight, Wednesday, October 26, features a hip hop concert, a costume party, and information about a sustainable development project that the students are pursuing.  

Want to know more about Nourish International at UNM?  Drop them a note, and watch this space for a guest blog from Mercedes, Sam or Matt (or all three of them).

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Day after Food Day (Celebrating Food Year)

Anti-hunger and nutrition advocates around the country observed  Food Day on October 24 with a number of activities to bring attention to a number of food related issues.  

Many of those were listed on Facebook, For example, Food Day New Mexico's campaign placed  big emphasis on buying local.   

The national organizers of Food Day also had advocacy in mind.  They were urging supporters around the country to urge Congress to support Food Day's Goals.
And at least a couple of members of Congress have responded.  Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) wrote a great piece for the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call entitled, On Food Day, Count Our Blessings and Make a Difference. Harkin  is ranking member on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.

Here is an excerpt
Since the first Thanksgiving almost 400 years ago, Americans have spent each fall counting our blessings for the abundance produced by this continent’s food and agriculture system. It is a gift that has kept on giving: We Americans today are, in general, able to consume more food, with more variety and convenience, more suited to our individual tastes and costing a lower share of our incomes than ever before in human existence.

Even as we recognize this abundance, another long-held American tradition is continually working to improve on our present circumstances — to keep pushing for innovative and better ways of doing things. That has certainly been so in agriculture, nutrition and health. In that spirit, people throughout our country will take part today in a number of activities organized around Food Day. We are proud to be honorary co-chairmen of this special and important day.
Read full article

But every year Food Day is just  a milestone, a page marker.  Our challenge is to make sure that any efforts from this day are ongoing.  So Happy Food Year everyone!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Photos from Albuquerque CROP Walk 2011

We set up a Bread for the World table at the annual CROP Walk on Sunday, Oct. 23. Walkers started and ended at Second Presbyterian Church in the Martineztown section of Albuquerque.  The walk included stops at The Storehouse and St. Martin's Hospitality Center.

Orbit, the mascot from the Albuquerque Isotopes (Triple-A baseball team), was on hand to send off the walkers. He even stopped at the Bread table. Here are some great photos, most of them courtesy of Laura Elizabeth Pohl, multimedia manager at Bread for the World. (That is Laura pictured with Orbit in the second to last photo).

Ann Sims hangs with Orbit

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Grace on a Fall Day in Albuquerque

"Grace is not 'something with which' we perform good works and attain to God. It is God's very presence and action within us." -Thomas Merton

Lutheran Advocacy Ministry Invites You to "Speaking Out Together"

The Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-NM invites you to Speaking Out Together. its 2011 advocacy conference on Saturday, November 12, St. Luke Lutheran Church in Albuquerque (9100 Menaul NE, between Moon and Eubank), 9:00 A.M. - 1:00 P.M.  Registration is $15 per person,including lunch.   To register or for more information contact Ruth Hoffman,, or call 505.984.8005. Registration deadline: Nov. 9.

Rep. Gail Chasey
State Rep. Gail Chasey, consistent champion for repeal of the death penalty as well as those living in poverty, is the featured speaker,

Planned breakout session topics include advocacy basics, hunger, Medicaid and more. This year there will be breakout sessions for those who coordinate their congregations ELCA World Hunger work (The registration fee will be waived for those Hunger Leaders.). Plan now to attend and learn more about advocating for our neighbors living in poverty.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

NCRLC Food & Justice Project: Call for a New Food System

The National Catholic Rural Life Conference asks a very important question. Have you wondered why there appears to be an abundance of food produced and yet many people still go hungry. How do we secure food for all? How do we fix a broken economy that allows poverty and hunger to persist?
But the NCRLC does not leave you hanging with that question. The Catholic organization has produced a set of five commentaries that will introduce you to the complexities and problems of our current global food system.

Let me whet your appetite with an excerpt from the third commentary, An agricultural ethic for a global generation
What does it mean for a society to live by an “agricultural ethic”? How do we as a nation determine the values that will guide our agricultural practices? Given that food is essential for life, we can only agree that the primary measure of agriculture is to provide sufficient food for all. But agriculture and food production cannot disregard other concerns, namely the well-being of those who grow and harvest the food -- farmers and farmworkers -- or the integrity of the land to remain productive season after season.
The NCRLC would like a broad dialogue on this question, and has made the commentaries suitable for reproduction in diocesan newspapers and online blogs that are looking for faith-based perspectives on our food system.

And there is a lot more food for thought.  Check out the  NCRLC Food & Justice initiative and the Food Security & Economic Justice study guide.

More (important) homework?  We also recommend this recent feature article from the University of Minnesota: Hope for a Hungry Planet: A four-fold strategy to combat world hunger and environmental degradation.

Okay, I'll give you the answer to the homework assignment.  Here's an excerpt from the article.
"We lose 30 to 40 percent of food on the planet in transit, in restaurants, by being thrown out of refrigerators, and other means," says Jonathan Foley, director of the UM Institute on the Environment. "These are resources that could have been sold. Show me a business that can lose 30-40 percent of its operations and still be profitable. There must be win-win opportunities here."
A lot of food for thought (pardon the pun).

By the way, my thanks to Sister Joan Brown of Albuquerque, who serves on the board of the NCRLC, for passing on this information.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

An Invitation to a School Breakfast Summit

The New Mexico No Kid Hungry campaign cordially invites you to  New Mexico School Breakfast Summit: Growing School Breakfast - Ending Child Hunger on Tuesday, Nov. 15. Join principals, food service staff, superintendents, dieticians, teachers and others for this free event.  Registration is required. 

Register here   Click on image below for more details.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Liturgy for the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

Today and every October 17 since 1993, the United Nations has observed the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.  This year, the theme is From Poverty to Sustainability: People at the Center of Inclusive Development. 

This observance was conceived in  in 1993, when the General Assembly, by resolution 47/196, designated this day to promote awareness of the need to eradicate poverty and destitution in all countries, particularly in developing countries – a need that has become a development priority.

At the Millennium Summit, world leaders committed themselves to cutting by half by the year 2015 the number of people living in extreme poverty – people whose income is less than one dollar a day.
October 17 presents an opportunity to acknowledge the effort and struggle of people living in poverty, a chance for them to make their concerns heard, and a moment to recognize that poor people are the first ones to fight against poverty. Participation of the poor themselves has been at the center of the Day’s celebration since its very beginning. The commemoration of 17 October also reflects the willingness of people living in poverty to use their expertise to contribute to the eradication of poverty.   -UN Social Policy and Development Committee
With global attention focused on the upcoming Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), anti-poverty advocates tell uf of the importance of drawing  attention to  poverty eradication as a means for building sustainable futures for all. People living in poverty face increasingly difficult challenges as climate change, environmental degradation and rising food prices threaten their livelihoods and survival. The path to sustainable development must ensure that people living in poverty are included in decision-making processes, and that concrete action is taken to respond to their needs and demands.

Sustainable development is not only about a clean planet. It means ensuring that nobody is left behind. Only in this way can peace be brought about and development be truly sustainable.

My thanks to Sister Jane Remson from New Orleans Bread for the World, who passed on this liturgy.


The Lighting of Candles

Candle Lighter 1:
This is the light of Ruth, a foreigner who journeyed into the unknown for the sake of love and loyalty to Naomi, and who acted with initiative to change their lives for the better.

All: We praise God and claim Ruth’s power of solidarity with all those people who are poor and oppressed and broken.

Candle Lighter 2
This is the light of all people who have struggled to build bridges of hope, justice and reconciliation in a world of poverty, suspicion and war – as peacemakers, lobbyists, community workers and good
All: We praise God and claim the activists’ power to bring about dreams.

Candle Lighter 3
This is the light of many lives, shining through hardship, hoping in life’s difficulties, living with generosity and compassion, and committed to justice.
All: We praise God and claim the power to live in hope, in freedom and in justice.

Candle Lighter 4
This is the light of all those who have committed themselves to eradicate poverty and injustice and who have built cultures of peace and hope where everyone is welcome.
All: We praise God and claim the power of our commitment in smallness and fragility.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Rethinking the Garden: Why Not a Garden of Opportunities?

Photo by Carlos Navarro
By Hank Bruce

Of course the community garden is a part of the sustainable solution to the problems of hunger, malnutrition, food insecurity and the diseases the haunt the empty dinner tables.

The family garden, the backyard, patio or rooftop garden, and the urban farm are also a part of the answer. But when we can grow even a part of our own food, we are empowered. Unfortunately, less than 10% of this nation’s community gardens are even wheelchair accessible.

What if we rethink the community, and the family garden, to make it much more than a place to grow vegetables?

What if we change the perspective from growing the plants to growing the people?

What if we make it possible for everyone to share in the fine and ancient art of gardening?

A scene repeated around the United States
George sat by the window watching the neighbors and their kids load the SUV with garden tools, garden gloves and a tray filled with tomato, chile and watermelon plants. There was also a lunch bag filled with brightly colored packets of seeds. He turned when he heard the click of Maggie’s walker approaching.

She sought the comfort of her recliner. “They off to the garden again?”

“Yeah.” He turned the wheelchair so that he was facing her before continuing. “Wish they’d let us old timers into that community garden of theirs.”

“Ya know we could teach them a thing or two about growing your own food.” Maggie spoke wistfully, but her lips were pursed in anger. “But there’s no way we could navigate the mud and bark paths to even get to those garden plots with wheelchair and walker, even if they did let us in the gate.”

“You’re so right.” George pushed his wheelchair back from the window. “Them that needs the garden the most is the ones that can’t afford the fees, or get around. What about us old timers, and folks like that blind kid down the street, or that soldier, paralyzed with a back injury. They could all benefit from growing their own food. No one should have to go hungry, and depend on the food pantry or commodities.”

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fighting Hunger is All About Community

CNN's Impact Your World is featuring efforts to address hunger ahead of World Food Day 2011,  If you go to this site, you can watch a video of singer and actress Christina Aguilera's efforts in Haiti and Guatemala.  And the site recommends a list of 10 organizations that address hunger in one way or another.  And the list includes Bread for the World (although the link goes to the Bread for the World Institute). 

And there is also a video (just below) about the One World Everybody Eats Foundation and the concept of community cafes.  Denise Cerreta, who promotes the concept of community cafes is featured.  If you remember, Santa Fe hosted a summit for One World Everybody Eats back in January 2011.  And this past summer, the The Community Table Café launched operations in Santa Fe.  (Read blog post)  

Thank you Denise for developing this concept of the community cafe and promoting it across many communities in our land. 

Former Child Soldier from Uganda to Share Story in Albuquerque

We've all heard very sad stories about children being conscripted into a rebel army (or sometimes the national army) in many countries where conflict prevails. This has happened around the globe, including the Middle East and North Africa, Southeast Asia, Latin America and  sub-Saharan Africa.  (In Latin America, a recent trend has been for children to be recruited to work as couriers or to sell drugs on the street.  In some instances, they "graduate" into the ranks of enforcers).

We don't often get a chance to hear the accounts from the former child soldiers themselves.  When we do, the stories they tell us are very powerful.  

We now have a great opportunity in Albuquerque to hear from two former child soldiers in Uganda, one via a direct presentation and another through a video.

David, a former child soldier, will be speaking here twice on Sunday, October 30, thanks to the international organization Invisible Children, the local office of Catholic Charities, and groups at two local churches.  Along with David's talk, there will be a video where another child soldier, Tony, tells his story.

The first presentation will take place at 10:00 A.M., at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, 619 Copper NW in downtown Albuquerque.  

If you are unable to make the first talk, David will be speaking at Aquinas Newman Center Catholic Church (auditorium), 1815 Las Lomas Rd. NE, at about 6:00 P.M. 

Here is a powerful video from Invisible Children

Friday, October 14, 2011

Obscene Famine

You might recognize most, if not all, of those celebrities in the video created by Bono and the ONE Campaign to prompt action from Congress and the citizens of the U.S. (and around the world) on the crisis in East Africa, particularly Somalia and Kenya.  Read more from Bread for the World. 

ONE is urging us to take action, and here's what you can do.
Drought is inevitable, but famine is not. The current crisis in the Horn of Africa is the result of a tragic combination of factors that are man-made, including abnormally high food prices, lack of governance and security in Somalia, and a historic lack of investment in long-term agricultural development in the Horn. Over the past few years, we lost the political will and public support necessary to prevent the famine – and its causes. As a consequence, tens of thousands of children have died.

We have also missed the opportunity to help 200 million people from poor farming families lift themselves out of poverty. Communities in Africa can cope with droughts and natural disasters. But we need donors to put resources toward seeds, irrigation and teaching farmers new growing techniques. We need leaders to invest in early warning systems and national social safety net programs.

Congress can help keep our commitment to farmers in developing countries by fully funding Feed the Future— a life-changing USAID initiative that is investing in long-term agricultural development and could help put an end to famine for good.

Please sign The ONE Campaign's petition to Congress calling on them to fund this vital program.

¿Por Qué Reducimos Ayuda en Tiempos de Emergencia?

Además de reducir la ayuda para desarrollo a largo plazo, El Congreso planea rebajar la ayuda de emergencia. La cámara de representantes aprobó recientemente una propuesta de presupuesto para el año fiscal de 2012 la cual reduce la ayuda para alimentos de emergencia en un 75% comparada con los niveles del año fiscal de 2008. ¿Por qué reducimos este tipo de ayuda cuando el Cuerno de África está sufriendola peor sequía en 60 años?
For those of us who speak Spanish, this quote might seem familiar.  Over the past several months, Bread for the World, Sojourners and our allies have denounced the proposed reductions in international assistance.  The cuts will affect poverty-focused development initiatives as well as emergency aid.   This was the theme of an article I was asked to write for Just News, the Social Justice newsletter at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Albuquerque.  The bottom line: reforming foreign aid is important but an even greater priority is forming a Circle of Protection around the programs that help the most vulnerable people in poor countries as well as our own country.

Read full article in English  and in Spanish (translated by Luis Suárez and Mona Suárez)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Saints QB Drew Brees Urges You to Fight Global Hunger

Right now, millions of people are at risk of starvation in the Horn of Africa. As the father of two, it's hard for me to imagine what it must be like for parents to watch helpless as their children suffer.
-New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees

As a fan of the New Orleans Saints, I am extremely glad to see our star quarterback involved in anti-hunger efforts. Brees is becoming involved in a global campaign through the UN World Food Programme, which on Oct. 12 designated him as an ambassador.  

So is this just a ceremonial position?  Hardly. Brees will be involved in a social media campaign intended to raise awareness about global hunger and move people into taking action.  Here is what the Saints quarterback said in his Facebook page.
If global hunger's your cause, I need you on my team. In my new role as a UN World Food Programme Ambassador, I'm calling on you to support me in a unique social media campaign with WFP that shows how we're all linked in the fight against hunger.

We're calling it "Six Degrees of Hunger": I'll be sharing a message with six of my friends encouraging them to help spread the word on hunger and they'll send the message to six of their friends and so on. This campaign will raise critical awareness about hunger online, but we can't do it without your help. Please re-post and start the chain in your own network!
So there you go.  Just as easy as throwing a touchdown pass against the Atlanta Falcons! 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Wine for Water: A Fundraiser for Amy Biehl High School Students Traveling to Kenya

Click on image to enlarge is teaming up with a group of students from Amy Biehl High School  in Albuquerque to raise money for a trip to Kenya in March 2012. Hey, that's just around the corner!

(Watch for a future blog post with more details about the trip  In the meantime, read about work with water projects in Kenya).

This special event will take place at St. Clair Winery & Bistro, 901 Rio Grande Blvd NW (in Old Town Albuquerque) tomorrow, October 12, at 6:00 p.m.

For the low price of $25, enjoy wine tasting, hors d'oeuvres, and a silent auction.  Buy Tickets Here or click the image immediately to the left and then scan the QR code on the right with your Smartphone

Special musical performance by Albuquerque-based musician Chuck Hawley
(see YouTube video below)

Please Don't Forget Your Donation of Non-perishable Food Items

If you're joining us for our Circle of Protection prayer vigil on Saturday, October 22, please don't forget to bring you non-perishable food items.  We're donating the food to The Storehouse.  Bring full grocery bags if you can.

And here's why. A headline in this morning's edition of The Albuquerque Journal reads: Food Supplies Running Low at Some N.M. Nonprofits 
Here's an excerpt:
“Right now we are probably at the lowest food supply that we’ve been at in two or three years,”said Lee Maynard, president of the board of directors at The Storehouse. “We’re still managing to pull it together and find food when we need it, so we’ve not turned anybody away, but the crowds keep getting bigger and the food supply does not keep pace. So it’s definitely a problem.”
The holiday period is just around the corner, and food supplies traditionally pick up then.  But we don't need to wait until then.
“So, yes, we have food in our warehouse, but if we had more food, we could easily distribute it. The need is there,” said Sonya Warwick, a spokeswoman for Roadrunner Food Bank. “We’re still getting a lot of the same phone calls, people who are saying, ‘I’ve been laid off for a year, or 18 months, and I have to cut food out of my monthly budget or I have to limit my expenses at the store.’ ”
Here's the link to the full article in the Albuquerque Journal Web site (subscription required).

A Bake Sale for Casa de las Comunidades

Dear Friend:

Casa de Las Comunidades (CDLC) is a Catholic Worker community who accompanies the poor with a focus on immigrant families in Albuquerque, N.M. 

We are in great need of funds for our English as a Second Language (ESL) and youth programs including books, materials and other resources. To assist in developing this program we will be hosting a fall bake sale with the help of Immaculate Conception Parish Church in downtown Albuquerque on Sunday, October 30, and would like to ask for your help. 

There are at least five ways that you can participate in this fundraising event that will support these programs at CDLC:

Bake a cake or any yummy baked good that you are famous for!
• Share this with a friend who you know would enjoy baking for a great cause
• Donate a cake or baked items from your favorite bakery, café or grocery
• Donate monetarily to help our families who will be participating by baking their specialties
• Attend the bake sale on Oct. 30th and buy something delicious for you and your family

At CDLC, we work to accompany individuals and families who have immigrated from their country and culture; our primary focus on women and youth, who have been abused and/or oppressed by broken systems and unjust laws. In the spirit of the gospel message, our programs seek to feed the hungry, clothe naked and befriend the stranger by not only direct assistance but through skills building, faith formation and leadership development.

Please consider supporting us in the fundraiser event for Casa de Las Comunidades Catholic Worker. With questions or for more information on how you can participate please contact me at 504.338.5280 or by email at

Thank you and may the Holy Spirit continue to inspire you with its grace,

Rene Ronquillo
Development and Outreach Coordinator
Casa de Las Comunidades Catholic Worker

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Live Music, Yoga and the Africa Yoga Project

If you practice yoga in class setting, chances are that you will be led by an instructor with a tape player.

But what if there was no tape player, and there was live music instead?  That's exactly what you'll find if you participate in the Rock-N-Flow Fusion fundraiser on Saturday, November 5, at Blissful Spirints Hot Yoga in Albuquerque, 3:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

The yoga session will be led by Chris Courtney of Grassroots Yoga and Blissful Spirits Yoga in Albuquerque, and Amber Samplin of Studio Santosha Yoga of Peoria, Arizona.

Here's how the organizers describe the session.
Its a two-hour practice of YinYasa that will leave you feeling expansive and energetic, yet calm and grounded. Let your heart flood with grace, while yours ears are flooded with joy. Yoga with Live Music never felt so good!
And what about the live music?  The mood will be set by the Luminaries from Venice Beach, California. According to the organizers, the group "offers a beacon of hope with their music that inspires us simply to love. It will be an ecstatic energy exchange by yogis from all over town!"

Check it out yourself:

And now to a very important reason for this special event.  A portion of the proceeds will benefit Africa Yoga Project, which uses the transformative power of yoga to empower communities and change lives. By inspiring the global yoga community into active service, AYP delivers effective and innovative programs that foster peace, improve physical, emotion and mental well-being, facilitate self-sufficiency and create opportunities to learn and contribute across the communities of East Africa.

$20 pre-sale/$25 day of the event.
Space is limited  Reserve your spot now. Click on this link and then click on "workshops" on the menu on the top.

So take off your shoes, center yourselves, breathe deeply, loosen your muscles and energize your body.  It's for a good cause!

Saturday, October 08, 2011

From the Despensa Program to a Food Bank for Sunland Park

(This is the fourth in a series of blog posts to commemorate  Local Food Month  and Food Day in New Mexico during October in which we feature  people and organizations who seek to raise awareness and offer solutions to problems of hunger and poverty and promote nutrition and sustainability.  We will also highlight a number of anti-hunger events).

Today we feature the efforts of the local chapter of  Spirit Mission to create a full food bank in Sunland Park, New Mexico, a poor community near the border with Chihuahua. The organization created a program to provide food on a regular basis to people in the community living below the federal poverty level through a special distribution effort known as the Despensa.  But the needs are greater than the program can offer because 47% of Sunland Park live below the federal poverty level.

"The Despensa program at the beginning set out to help a small amount of families with their food needs. This has grown from a 90 family handout at the beginning on July 20th 2011, to a 500-family distribution program in the span of just six weeks," said Rafael Ramos, president and CEO of Spirit Mission "

Ramos said the goal is to provide service to 750 families by the end of December 2011, but they need to create a full food bank to accomplish this task.   "We will need help in the form of capital to establish a stable method of distributing food that can be sustainable in three years," said Ramos.

"Our organization is working to establish a permanent, sustainable delivery system of food services to the community on a long- term basis," said Ramos.

Ramos' son, a community development specialist, said the organization has been  working with Casa de Peregrinos to obtain food for distribution, but is looking to establish a direct relationship with Albuquerque-based Roadrunner Food Bank.  "Casa de Peregrinos is helping us do the transition smoothly," he said.

"Now we have a very good system to track people coming to receive food and make the process go a bit faster," said Ramos Jr.

But the move to a larger operation is going to take money. "At this moment, we have local donors who are helping this program to continue running at its small current level," said Ramos Sr.  "This is helping us stay on course with our efforts, but it is not enough to reach our mid-term goals. For this, Spirit Mission South would need steady funding to grow our base and market our services to the southern New Mexico area."

If you want to help, send donations to:

Spirit Mission Inc.
1885 McNutt Rd.
Sunland Park, NM 880063

Friday, October 07, 2011

Celebrate Local Food in AlbuquerqueThis Sunday!

(This is the third in a series of blog posts to commemorate  Local Food Month  and Food Day in New Mexico during October in which we feature  people and organizations who seek to raise awareness and offer solutions to problems of hunger and poverty and promote nutrition and sustainability.  We will also highlight a number of anti-hunger events, including this great festival in Albuquerque this coming Sunday).

Local Food Festival and Field Day
Healthy Land - Healthy Food - Healthy People

Sunday, October 9, 2011 - 11:00am-4:00pm
Gutierrez-Hubbell House, South Valley, Albuquerque

The Local Food Festival and Field Day, a celebration of food from the ground up, is an annual event highlighting local food and agriculture in our region. The festival is organized by the Mid-Region Council of Governments Agricultural Cooperative, in partnership with a variety of local groups and organizations.

This year’s festival will be bigger and better than ever. In addition to some fabulous food (we’ll have lots of prepared food and neat lunches from gourmet food trucks), please see below for the first sneak peak at the many additional activities:

Ongoing Events

CHEFS TENT – Main Field
Cook with the Chefs, cooking demonstrations and tastings with four local chefs:
· 12:00-1:00 - Chef #1: Jason Greene, The Grove Cafe & Market
· 1:00-2:00 - Chef #2: Maxime Bouneau, Torrinos’ @ Home
· 2:00-3:00 - Chef #3: Saul Paniagua, Winner of the 2010 Chef Knockout
· 3:00-4:00 - Chef #4: Jaye Wilkinson, Los Poblanos Inn & Organic Farm

BANDS AND POETRY TENT – Center of Main Field
· 11:00am – 1:15pm - Young Edward
· 1:30pm-1:45pm - Yasmeen Najmi – Poetry Readings
· 1:45pm – 4:00pm - Mala Maña

SPEAKERS TENT – Hubbell House Courtyard
· 11:00-11:30 - Isaura Andaluz, The Importance of Seed Saving
· 11:45-12:15 - Jen Prosser, Food Preservation – Quick and Easy
· 12:30-1:00 - Bernadette Torres – Curandurisima(o) – Learning About Folk Medicine & Healing
· 1:15-1:45 - Bruce Milne, UNM Summer Foodshed Field School
· 2:45-3:15 - Amanda Bramble, The Power of Solar Cooking & Dehydrating
· 3:30-4:00 - Bard Edrington, Water Harvesting Tips and Techniques

Bread for the World Indianapolis – The Early Days

Larry and Donna Lindley, CROP Walk 1980
By Larry Lindley

I joined Bread for the World in the late 1970s, but felt the need to connect with others in my home town of Indianapolis with an interest in the welfare of hungry people. I contacted the Bread national staff and they sent me a mailing list of Indiana members and even printed for me mailing labels for those from the Indianapolis area.
I got together with the pastor of the Linwood Christian Church and organized the first local group meeting in the city. I sent out invitations in the summer of 1980, hoping that some would respond. The meeting was held at the Linwood Christian Church on the east side of the city and turned out quite successful, with about 30 people attending. We all sat in a circle as Rep. Andy Jacobs spoke to the group about the importance of advocacy for hungry people. After the meeting, a steering committee was formed consisting of myself, Eileen Paige, and Elaine Davies. The Indianapolis group has been meeting ever since at various locations around the city.

Eileen Page & others at Monument Circle
One of the first activities of the steering committee was to organize and lead a number of city wide seminars on the Presidential Commission on World Hunger Report.

In the fall of that year we participated in the first Indianapolis CROP walk by carrying a large banner that we had made. In taking turns carrying this banner for the 10 miles of the walk, we were able to make contact with several people interested in hunger advocacy, including a Bread member who had just moved into the city, David Miner.

Also in the fall of 1980, we organized the first Bread for the World Congressional Forum, where we brought together congressional candidates from Central Indiana districts to discuss their positions on world hunger and poverty. We had candidates from three different districts attend and received TV coverage on the evening news. It was to be the first of eight consecutive biennial events.

(The author is a Bread for the World activist in Indianapolis)

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Food Day Meets Basketball in Española

(This is the second in a series of blog posts to commemorate  Local Food Month  and Food Day in New Mexico during October in which we feature  people and organizations who seek to raise awareness and offer solutions to problems of hunger and poverty and promote nutrition and sustainability.  We will also highlight a number of anti-hunger events).

Organizers of Food Day in northern New Mexico and students at Northern New Mexico College invite you to join them during the week of Oct. 24-31 for two simultaneous celebrations -- the kick-off to the 2011-12 women's and men's college basketball seasons at NNMC and a week-long series of food-focused events to celebrate national Food Day.  They include the grand finale of their local harvest season & Farmers Market, the grand opening of Sostenga Center's new sustainable food cafe on the NNMC Española campus, and the Traditional Agriculture & Sustainable Living Conference,

NNMC's Student Senate has declared this week "Basketball Spirit Week" to celebrate the beginning of 2011-12 college basketball season and launch our men's and women's Northern Eagles to high-flying championship seasons. College basketball season kicks off on the weekend of October 28th-29th at NNMC's gymnasium in Española with the Santa Claran Classic Tournament.


Monday, Oct. 24 -- Student Senate celebrates national Food Day & the start of Basketball Spirit Week by sponsoring a locally harvested feast for our basketball teams and all Northern students! Time: 5:30 to 7 pm. Location: NNMC gymnasium, Española campus. WE NEED VOLUNTEERS TO HELP COOK & SERVE FOOD! E-mail for more info or to help volunteer.

Wednesday, Oct. 26 -- ¡Sostenga! Tiendita Grand Opening! with ¡Sostenga! Farm & Commercial Kitchen tours. Time: All day. Location: JCI Building and field at 1021 North Railroad Avenue, NNMC Española campus. Come support the launch of Northern's new "tiendita" (little store) specializing in espresso coffee and healthier, locally produced & processed food choices. E-mail or visit to learn more about the exciting programs coordinated by NNMC's ¡Sostenga! Center for Sustainable Food, Agriculture & Environment.

Thursday, Oct. 27 -- Bonfire and pep rally at NNMC's Espanola campus with Student Senate and Northern Eagles basketball players! On the night before the start of our 2011-12 college basketball season, join the whole Northern community to send our prayers into the fire for a successful winning / championship season! Time: 7 to 9:30 pm. Location: Outside NNMC's gymnasium at the Española campus.

Friday Oct 28 & Saturday Oct 29: Traditional Agriculture & Sustainable Living Conference, with keynote speaker physicist and environmentalist Vandana Shiva, PhD. The conference includes internationally renowned speakers as well as local and regional experts in the areas of food security and sustainable ecology a heritage seed exchange, workshops, and panels on youth issues in the 21st century, food and nutrition, water issues, traditional farming, land restoration and medicinal herbs. Register to attend through the conference Web site Click here to view schedule

Monday, Oct 31: Join the Española Farmers Market for a Halloween/Season Finale Celebration! Time: 9 am to 5 pm. Location: 1005 North Railroad Avenue, Española, New Mexico.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Author Sherman Apt Russell: Food Should be a Basic Human Right

(In commemoration of Local Food Month  and Food Day in New Mexico, this October I want to feature people who seek to raise awareness and offer solutions to problems of hunger and poverty and promote nutrition and sustainability.  We will also highlight a number of anti-hunger events).

I want to start with a presentation by writer Sharman Apt Russell, who was the featured speaker at the the Hunger for Knowledge dinner in Silver City, N.M., hosted by the Social Inequality class at Western New Mexico University in the fall of 2010.  Ms Russell is author of the book Hunger: An Unnatural History.

Here are some excerpts of her presentation at WMNU:
I’m going to say briefly why I think there is hunger in America, the land of plenty. I don’t think it’s because we are uncaring as individuals. I think it’s because we have chosen as a society, as a group, not to see food as a basic human right—much as we don’t see health care as a basic human right. And so we haven’t embedded this right into our institutions.

We don’t work to make Food Stamps and WIC and Meals on Wheels wonderfully functional because we are still arguing about whether we should even fund these programs. We don’t work for a livable wage because we haven’t agreed that there should be one. Once we make that decision—once we agree that everyone in America has a right to food—then we will get everyone food just like we get them postal service and electricity and other services that we consider basic to being American. 
Click this blog post to read the full text of her comments.

Incidentally, the WNMU Social Inequality class, taught by Dr. Emma Bailey, will host the 3rd Annual "Hunger for Knowledge Dinner" and Volunteer Center fundraising event  on Nov. 2.  This year's event  will feature a Hunger Expo, a meal, entertainment and an update on the state of hunger in Grant County.  Stay tuned for more details.

Here is more information about the Social Inequality class, which collects and interprets data related to hunger and poverty as part of a Service Learning Project.
Students present their research on hunger statistics in a way most have never seen before. Guests are divided into social classes based on real social statistics for the United States, and their meals reflect their assigned positions of upper, middle, and lower classes. Upper class guests receive multiple courses of high quality foods, while the lowest classes receive small portions of low quality and nutrition. Just like in the U.S., the majority are somewhere in the middle with decent food at decent portions. Participants also hear from speakers who address the themes of hunger and inequality.